Consumer goods giant Unilever aims to achieve Net Zero emissions from all its products by 2039, the company announced on 15 June.
The range of actions to fight climate change set out by the company, which is co-headquartered in Rotterdam and London, follow the commitments it made last year to transform the palm oil industry.
Unilever’s latest announcements include a new €1bn Climate & Nature Fund; a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023; a Regenerative Agriculture Code for all its suppliers; and water stewardship programmes for local communities in 100 locations by 2030.
“While the world is dealing with the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and grappling with serious issues of inequality, we can’t let ourselves forget that the climate crisis is still a threat to all of us. Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity – all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously,” Unilever CEO Alan Jope said.
The latest proposals follow Unilever’s earlier commitment to source 100% physically sustainable palm oil by the end of 2019.
Unilever said it had achieved 95% sustainably sourced palm oil and palm kernel oil for its core volumes in 2019. A further 4.5% of its volumes were sourced through independent smallholder certificates, bringing the sustainably sourced total to 99.6%.
The company is also working to ensure traceability within its palm oil supply chain through the use of emerging technologies such as satellites, geolocation, blockchain and artificial intelligence.
Supply chain transparency is also of importance and Unilever was the first major consumer goods company to publish its supplier and mill data, identifying around 1,570 of the palm oil mills in its operation including its direct and extended supply chain.
All of the company’s suppliers have to adhere to its Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing Policy which was updated in 2016 with stronger commitments.
In its efforts to help transform the wider industry, Unilever was a founding member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in 2014, a globally certification standard to drive sustainable production.
The company also works with the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA), a global public-private partnership in which partners take voluntary actions to reduce the tropical deforestation associated with sourcing palm oil, soya, beef, and paper and pulp.
Unilever said it was convinced of the need to tackle the issues associated with palm oil, such as climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, land conflicts and human rights issues, and balance those against the economic benefit that palm oil brings to millions of people working in the industry, as well as palm oil’s relatively efficient use of land.